Amadeo had never known love like this before. Yes, he loved his kingdom and his people, but this love...this was the kind of love for which he would die, if he had to. His heart - no, his very soul - swelled with such a fierce protectiveness that for a moment, he wondered if he was physically able to let go of Cassandra's hand.
Cassandra's eyes filled with tears again, and she slowly lifted her other hand to rest on Amadeo's. In that moment, with their hands intertwined, Amadeo knew he would do anything - absolutely anything - to win Cassandra's heart.
Heart throbbing with deep love with its every heartbeat, Amadeo watched as a flicker of sadness crossed Cassandra's eyes. "What's wrong?" he asked softly, wanting to weep at the sight of Cassandra's despondence.
"Nothing," the broken-eyed girl replied, but it was clear that something was on her mind.
"Will you run away from me tonight?" Amadeo asked, wanting nothing more than to capture Cassandra in his arms and never, ever let go. What if she did return to Hadrian? What would he do then?
"I do lots of things I don't want to do."
"Do you know what I want, Cassandra?" Amadeo asked, gently massaging Cassandra's fingers. When Cassandra shook her head, Amadeo continued. "I want you to stay with me here, forever, and to know the love that you were made for."
"You don't want that," Cassandra said, uncertain. Her chin quivered as several tears squeezed from her lashes.
"If I didn't want that, why would I bring you here?" Amadeo asked. He silently released Cassandra's hands when she pulled away. "Do you think I only wanted you here for a little visit, only to turn you out again? I renovated that guest house just for you. It's yours, if you'll have it. If you'll have me."
"Why are you doing this for me?"
Why am I doing this for her? "Because I love you."
"But why do you love me?"
"I love you because you're mine," Amadeo said simply. "I love you because our souls were meant for one another."
"That doesn't make sense. Why would you fall in love with a prostitute? You don't know everything I've ever done, Sire."
And there Cassandra went again, calling Amadeo "Sire." Sighing, Amadeo reached out and tenderly touched Cassandra's cheek. "Why don't you want me to love you? Why are you so resistant?"
Cassandra turned away. "I'm sorry," she muttered. "I never should have come." And with those words, she made a move to run away.